A Smaller CRO Not on Your “Preferred Provider” List?

Posted by: DaVita Clinical Research

For a company developing a new pharmaceutical or medical device product, what can a small contract research organization (CRO) offer?  Why would anyone consider working with one, when preferred-provider arrangements and strategic alliances between pharmaceutical companies and CROs have become common?





The winners of the 2016 CRO Leadership Awards presented by Life Science Leader (with ISR conducting the research behind the awards) include several small CROs that are meeting criteria cited by pharma companies when choosing a CRO.  The criteria most likely to be cited when choosing “off a preferred provider list” or in “the absence of a preferred provider list include”1:

  • Patient recruitment strategy
  • Experience with similar study types
  • Prior positive experience with service provider

In addition, operational excellence and therapeutic expertise were among the most important criteria, whether choosing from a preferred provider or not.

As patient recruitment and retention continue to be among the biggest challenges2 in clinical research, it’s no surprise that patient recruitment strategy is among the top-cited factors when choosing a CRO.  Prior positive experience may include experience with recruiting, and experience with similar study types may also include experience recruiting a certain patient type, along with the experience of the investigator and staff.

The results of our own client surveys at DaVita Clinical Research are consistent with those of the larger ISR study.  Our early clinical research (Phase 1-2a) clients cite these factors as most important when choosing a CRO3:

  • On-time recruitment
  • Rapid study start-up
  • Access to specialty populations

Identifying and recruiting the right participants may be one of those “unmet” needs in the market which some smaller CRO’s may be able to fill.  Whether by focusing on a subset of therapeutic areas, or using data derived from de-identified datasets to pinpoint locations of patients who may be interested in participating in large Phase 3 trials, it’s clear from the Life Science Leader/ISR Reports data that some smaller CROs are exceeding customer expectations in areas such as “access to patient populations,” “patient/volunteer recruitment,” and “speed of site start-up.”

At DaVita Clinical Research, we have 30 years of experience recruiting patients for renal and hepatic impairment trials, and we use our Real Time Site ID capabilities to conduct feasibility and enrollment for Phase 3 trials.  We’re part of a larger healthcare provider treating nearly a million patients available for potential trial enrollment.  If you’d like to learn more about how we use our data to inform our recruitment strategy, reach out to our VP of Commercial Development, Kevin.Goudreau@DaVita.com.